Pasture Litter …Again

For the last few days the cows grazed in front of the family cemetery.  This was a thick stand of bermudagrass with cowpeas, millet and a few other things mixed in.  There was also a mowed path to the cemetery gate.  In fact, it looked like this about 6 weeks ago:

JulyGrazing6Notice the mowed area in the foreground.  With me?

One of our goals in using cattle for rotational grazing is to cover, protect and feed the soil with litter.  This keeps the soil cooler and traps more moisture than just bare ground.  Where is the litter going to come from in the foreground?  It ain’t.  I mean, you would think some portion of the grass clippings would stick around and blanket the ground but there just isn’t enough mass…the soil biota eat through it too quickly.

So the cows grazed it.  Here’s what the mowed area looks like now:

GrazingShort1

Not much for litter covering the soil.  The cows ate it right down to the nubbins…horses would have eaten it to dirt.  But the rest of the pasture looks pretty good.

GrazingLitter1

We had them packed in pretty tightly and we got good trampling and manure coverage.

GrazingLitter3The cows did a pretty good job.  I can see the benefits of packing them even tighter.  Maybe someday…

Again, there is very little left where the pasture had been mowed (a necessity for cemetery access).  That area will be a little slower to recover.  I expect the trampled grass to come back quickly…in time for fall grazing.  Hopefully we’ll get to graze it twice more this year.

GrazingLitter2

 

Most of the neighbor’s pastures look like the foreground in this picture…except they also have clumps of weeds.  If they don’t they have been mowed.  From the road they look OK just like this picture looks OK.  It’s only when you go in close to investigate that you realize how damaging it is.  Hot, baked, dead earth is not conducive to future grass crops.

 

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